The Genovese crime family is one of the "Five Families" that dominate organized crime activities in New York City as part of the Mafia (or Cosa Nostra). The Genovese crime family has been nicknamed the "Ivy League" and "Rolls Royce" of organized crime. They are rivaled in size only by the Gambino crime family and are unmatched in terms of power. They have generally maintained a varying degree of influence over many of the smaller mob families outside of New York, including ties with the Patriarca, Buffalo and Philadelphia crime families.
Finding new ways to make money in the 21st century, the Genovese family took advantage of lax due diligence by banks during the housing spike with a wave of mortgage frauds. Prosecutors say loan shark victims obtained home equity loans to pay off debts to their mob bankers. The family found ways to use new technology to improve on illegal gambling, with customers placing bets through offshore sites via the Internet.
The current "family" was founded by Lucky Luciano, but in 1957 it was renamed after boss Vito Genovese. Originally in control of the waterfront on the West Side of Manhattan (including the Fulton Fish Market), the family was run for years by "the Oddfather", Vincent "the Chin" Gigante, who feigned insanity by shuffling unshaven through New York's Greenwich Village wearing a tattered bath robe and muttering to himself incoherently.
Although the leadership of the Genovese family seemed to have been in limbo after the death of Gigante in 2005, they appear to be the most organized family and remain powerful. Unique in today's Mafia, the family has benefited greatly from members following the code of Omertà. While many mobsters from across the country have testified against their crime families since the 1980s, the Genovese family has only had six members turn state's evidence in its history.
One of Giuseppe Morello's strongest allies was Ignazio "the Wolf" Lupo, a mobster who controlled Little Italy, Manhattan. In 1903, Lupo married Morello's half sister, uniting both organizations. The Morello-Lupo alliance continued to prosper in 1903, when the group began a major counterfeiting ring with powerful Sicilian Mafioso Don Vito Cascio Ferro, printing $5 bills in Sicily and smuggling them into the United States. New York City Police detective Joseph Petrosino began investigating the Morello family's counterfeiting operation, the barrel murders and the black hand extortion letters. On November 15, 1909 Giuseppe Morello, Ignazio Lupo and others were arrested on counterfeiting charges. In February 1910, Morello and Lupo were sentenced to 30 years in prison.
As the Morello family increased in power and influence, bloody territorial conflicts arose with other Italian criminal gangs in New York. The Morellos had an alliance with Giosue Gallucci, a prominent East Harlem businessman and Camorrista with local political connections. On May 17, 1915 Gallucci was murdered in a power struggle between the Morellos and the Neapolitan Camorra organization, which consisted of two Brooklyn gangs run by Pellegrino Morano and Alessandro Vollero. The fight over Gallucci's rackets became known as the Mafia-Camorra War. After months of fighting, Camorra boss Morano offered a truce to end the fighting. A meeting was arranged at a Navy Street cafe owned by Alessandro Vollero. On September 7, 1916 upon arriving, Nicholas "Nick" Morello and his bodyguard Charles Ubriaco were ambushed by five members of the Brooklyn Camorra group and killed. In 1917, Morano was charged with Morello's murder after Camorrista Ralph Daniello implicated him in the murder. By 1918, law enforcement had sent many Camorra gang members to prison, decimating the Camorra in New York and ending the war. Many of the remaining Brooklyn Camorra gang members joined the Morello family.